My recent wedding vows meant that I officially declared, in front of the ones that I love, that “I, Kerryn, promise you Nigel to continue to cook you delicious meals…” Yes, its true (along with loving him unconditionally and so on)!
My husband and I are busy, active people and so my delicious meals that I solemnly promised also need to be healthy and quick. We all lead busy lives. Whether you are a single woman or man, a stay-at-home mum or dad or balance work life with family life, we are ALL busy people. So lets look at how we can get a nourishing meal on the table without the day devoted to our culinary eats.
Our house holds just the two of us. However, we are often home late from training, work or study so to keep my word and ensure we continue to enjoy healthy, delicious meals, I need to be organised. I am lucky that I love food and love to devote the spare second I may have to food preparation. But as a dietitian, I know too well that there are many of you out there who want to prioritise healthy eating without the time in the kitchen.
My mantra is to keep it simple.
Focus on fresh foods and basic nutrition principles without the complication of inspiring to be the next master chef or following the recent fad.
Eating well during a busy week for us starts with a shopping list and food shopping. If this sound boring to you, seek out your nearest fresh food or farmers markets and make a morning of it. You may discover a new love and enjoy a nice coffee while you’re at it. Opting for online shopping is also an option if you really can’t get to the shops or markets.
Regardless of how you seek out your produce, try and aim for it to arrive on a day or an afternoon that is generally free for you to devote some time to cooking.
Here are a few tips that help me continue to put healthy meals on the table:
1. Slow it down
Currently our palates are calling for winter warmers, which is perfect for preparing easy meals for the week ahead. My slow cooker is my new best friend as it can help me plan ahead our healthy eats. While I may be running or boxing after work, my slow cooker is getting its own workout after throwing all of the ingredients together before heading to work.
2. Two for one
Dedicate an afternoon to food preparation. If you naturally despise this piece of advice you may be surprised with the satisfaction you feel after preparing your own meals! Think about at least two meals that you can cook on one afternoon that may last two or three nights.
I prepare a slow cooker meal filled with lots of vegetables and tend to cook up a soup or some kind of dish that can be reheated and enjoyed over again. If you aren’t in love with leftovers, change the dish by serving it with a different side. For example, rice with a curry one night, greens with a curry for the next. These are the types of meals that you can freeze for another busy week or enjoy leftovers for lunch.
3. Bulk it up
Add canned legumes such as lentils, chickpeas or kidney beans to your dishes to increase the nutritional density and to make your it go further. I often add leftover veggies and dried lentils to a classic vindaloo curry to bulk it up and make it go further.
4. Quick and healthy
The next quick dish is a simple stir-fry. It takes no time to chop up a heap of your favourite veggies and add a source of protein such as chicken, prawns or beef.
If you thinly slice your chicken or beef you can throw all of the ingredients together which will take no time to cook. There is no need to buy pre-prepared sauces just use your pantry basics. My favourite is a little garlic, honey and soy. To balance your meal simply add some hokkien noodles that just need stir-frying to prepare.
Being organised in the kitchen not only helps with your healthy eats, but also can give you a sense of satisfaction and help you appreciate and enjoy the meals you have created.